‘Shot of Short’ #32: A House in the Country by Thornton Wilder

Title: A House in the Country by Thornton Wilder
Date Read: 18 April 2009
Available Online?: YES (as one of the stories posted by Harper Perennial on their website Fifty-Two Stories, which promises a new (or classic) short story from their collection, posted every week throughout 2009)

Briefly: Old Malcolm, a warehouse clerk who lives a mundane life, indulges in a spot of escapism and immerses himself in an imaginary dream-world, where his status and purpose is a much more elevated affair. It’s the ‘place’ where Old Malcolm feels most at ease, and it’s the place where Old Malcolm takes himself to more and more, as time progresses.

Afterthoughts: As short as this story is (it can certainly be classed in the category of ‘flash fiction’), there’s a lot packed into it. It’s an incredibly well-written story with a rather sad theme based around the mind’s deterioration with age. With an onus on daydreaming and imaginary world escapism, one wonders just how much the story may be an allegorical take on a writer’s own deteriorating life (perhaps even Wilder’s), and his particular way of thinking.

Notable Quote: “As the pleasure of ruminating about his hospitality grew on him, he set aside certain hours, above all the evening, to which he tried to restrict his imaginings, but the dream becoming stronger than the dreamer, he would sit for hours at his desk, with uplifted pen, watching unfold some new diversion of the country party.”

Rating: ★★★★☆

*Story read as part of my 100 Shots of Short reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).